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Comeback ĪCats

By Brian Penso
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 17, 2003

Arizona trails by 11 early, pulls away late, paced by Walton's near triple double

LOS ANGELES ÷ Hassan Adams watched from the bench as Southern California jumped out to an early 9-0 lead against Arizona.

Once the freshman got his chance in front of his hometown crowd, he made the most of it, sparking No. 2 Arizona's comeback.

Adams, along with freshman Andre Iguodala, was the difference in the Wildcats' (12-1,5-0) 81-72 victory in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena last night.

"When I get in there, I try to bring in energy off the bench," said Adams, a native of nearby Westchester, who scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the first half.

The Wildcats once again struggled to get their offense going as the Trojans (6-6, 2-2) built an 11-point first half lead. But a defensive change in the second half was the difference for UA, as it over came the deficit and came away with the win.

"Defensively, we stepped up our game," senior forward Luke Walton said. "We were able to get a lot of second chance buckets. Our defensive intensity turned the game around."

After shooting 51.3 percent in the first half, USC shot just 29 percent in the second.

The difference was when UA head coach Lute Olson matched up Iguodala on Trojan Desmon Farmer. After Farmer blazed Arizona for 20 first half points, the junior was held to only three in the second half.

"Andre did a great job on Farmer," Olson said. "The only bucket he got was when (Iguodala) wasn't even in the game."

In the second half the Wildcats went on a 14-2 run featuring four straight three-pointers along with a three point play by Iguodala that gave Arizona its first lead of the game at 68-66, with nine minutes to play.

The Arizona run was capped by a breakaway tomahawk jam by Iguodala, giving Arizona a 70-66 UA lead.

"I was just trying to bring some excitement into the game," said Iguodala, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds.

With Arizona on the verge of putting USC away, Trojan head coach Henry Bibby called a timeout to regroup his team.

USC cut Arizona's lead to 74-72 with a little under three minutes to play but couldn't pull any closer.

"We had control with eight minutes to go, but they are a very good team," Bibby said.

The Wildcats hit the boards in the final two minutes and USC was unable to gain any second shot opportunities.

"We need to have good balanced rebounding and tonight we did that," Olson said.

Gardner, Arizona's leading scorer, finished with just five points, but pulled down a career and game-high 10 defensive rebounds.

"That's what is great about Jason," Walton said. "When his shot is not falling he doesn't force anything. Jason getting 10 boards is just as good as him scoring 25 or 30 points."

Arizona had a scare in the second half when sophomore shooting guard Salim Stoudamire left the game with what looked to be another ankle injury. However, he returned three minutes later and said after the game. He finished with 13 points in 31 minutes.

In the much-anticipated matchup between Stoudamire and USC guard Errick Craven, it was Craven that poured in the most points this time after Stoudamire poured in 29 points last season in the Pac-10 championship. Craven finished with 21 points, five rebounds and six steals. But Stoudamire got what counted ÷ the victory.

The win gives Arizona a chance to sweep the Los Angeles schools on the road for the first time since 1993 if the Wildcats can beat UCLA on Saturday.

"It was a good win for us and the guys really didn't lose their poise," Olson said.

Game notes

Since 1998-99 the Wildcats are 71-7 when scoring at least 80 points·USC forward Nick Curtis left the game early in the first half with a right ankle injury but returned after halftime·Bill Walton was in attendance and said, "Arizona's superior conditioning took over and Lute Olson made the strategic move of the game when he switched from zone to man-on-man."·sophomore center Channing Frye has averaged a double-double in his last three games · the game's attendance was 9,951 with many fans cheering for UA ·

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